New Albany News

Plain Township will seek 2-mill fire levy Nov. 4

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The Plain Township trustees on June 18 unanimously approved a resolution of necessity to place a 2-mill permanent levy on the Nov. 4 general-election ballot.

"We've been analyzing this for quite some time and we've all reached the conclusion and feel that this is the most appropriate action we need to provide services from the fire department," said Dave Ferguson, chairman of the board of trustees.

The levy would generate approximately $1.2 million annually, Township Administrator Ben Collins said.

If approved, it would cost township homeowners about $70 per $100,000 of assessed property valuation, according to the Franklin County Auditor's Office.

Fire Chief John Hoovler has estimated the township fire department would have a $1.1 million deficit by fiscal year 2016, based on what the department currently collects from taxpayers.

Hoovler said if the township did not seek a levy, the annual carryover would be reduced to $100,000 by the end of 2015.

"We've outlined clear rationale, and in talking to the community, we feel it's the right thing to do for an outstanding group to continue to perform and offer the types of services they do," Ferguson said.

From 2008 to 2013, the fire department's runs have increased from 1,700 to 2,000 a year and thousands of employees have been added to the New Albany business campuses, according to township records.

The fire station at 9500 Johnstown Road was built in 1997 and now needs maintenance work, including a new roof, carpet and a kitchen, which were recommended in a recent needs assessment of the fire department.

The township also needs to replace two medical vehicles with more than 100,000 miles on each and it needs to begin replacing the self-contained breathing apparatus air packs the firefighters use, Hoovler has said.

The township has four voter-approved fire levies totaling 12.2 mills. The current effective collection rate is 7 mills, and the levies generated $3,636,553 from residential and commercial properties in 2013, Collins said.

The four levies were approved in 1983, 1990, 2000 and 2008. All are permanent and are used for operating costs.

"We've challenged the numbers; we've challenged the cost," Ferguson said. "We don't do this lightly. We feel good about this."

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